I’ve been thinking about the two fundamentals in bdsm of consent and no abuse. With masochism/sadism and such, what are your thoughts on how to identify the line between healthy bdsm pain play and unhealthy harmful interactions? How does each part of a D/s dynamic know when the line is being crossed? (Disclosure: I’m not into pain play much myself. Just wondering about it from a self-education point of view.)



This is a great question. I’m a bit under the weather today, but it’s a conversation worth having so I’m going to open this one to my Followers. Chime in, y’all!


Just some of the rudimentary distinctions:


This fundamental difference, in my opinion, must be recognized first and foremost. I define injury as anything requiring medical intervention. I don’t include mild to moderate abrasions, welts, bruises, etc. – basically, anything merely skin deep or cosmetic.


I am referring to the one giving the pain, the D-type or Top. If the Top is ever not in complete control of their emotions, and calm, all play must stop immediately. (If aware prior, no play should begin.) In my opinion, it is always abusive to the bottom for a Top to use the bottom’s masochistic desires to expunge the Top’s negative emotions (hatered, anger, frustration, self doubt, shame, etc.). The bottom is NOT a “poison toilet” for the Top to empty their negative emotions into.


The bottom’s needs must be correctly identified before any pain play occurs, each and every time.

Pain is NOT a “treatment”** for eating disorders, substance abuse disorders, depression, bipolar disorder nor (the most concerning) borderline personality disorder (the primary diagnosis associated with cutting/self harm). Pain should not be used to “purge” the bottom of self hatered. I judge all of the above to constitute a form of self harm and abusive to the dynamic.

Moreover, it’s the bottom’s needs that often dictate the nature of the pain play. For example, if the bottom has a “maintenance” need, that is usually gifted in a somewhat set manner. Here the purpose is not sexual or Sadistic. It’s form is usually impact (some form of spanking) as opposed to say nipple clamps or stress positional bondage.

** Note: A diagnosis does not preclude participation as long as the underlying disorder is currently managed well with treatment. It does however place additional responsibilities on the Top to maintain appropriate control, especially in time of stress. Any healthy S&m interaction has the potential to become self harm. Vigilance by the Top is NOT optional.

All of the above is written with the assumption that limits have been discussed, successfully negotiated and consent given.

I hope this is what you were getting at with your ask @daddydomexplorations .

Sorry to hear you’re under the weather my friend @instructor144 . (((HUGS)))

Awesome rundown. I usually just say there’s a difference between hurt and harm. Or pain and distress. I’m studiously careful not to cause harm in the first place. I check in regularly. And pause at the first sign of distress. Because even with a casual partner they’re STILL MY PARTNER! Who the fuck wants to fuck up a partner? Who the fuck wants to fuck up a relationship?

I adore @submissive-seeking’s distinction of masochism and self harm by proxy! 

It’s obvious when someone we know goes from bad relationship to worse.  It’s easy to mistake what they’re doing as looking for something more “real” or “authentic” or “deeper” masochism. 

But really, Subs and Masochists gotta play by the same “it’s a relationship” rules. Choosing actual abusers, people who “has some issues and goes a little too far sometimes, but I know what I’m doing” isn’t masochism anymore, is it? At some point it’s time to acknowledge they both “have some issues.”

Which is where that distinction of masochism vs self-harm comes in so well! The hurt-not-harm and pain-not-distress rules are everybody’s responsibility. Not just the top’s.

Because who the fuck wants to fuck up their Dom/Sadist partner either? Who the fuck wants to fuck up their relationship from the bottom?

Finally, as @submissive-seeking says, having a diagnosis doesn’t mean one can’t be in a relationship, nor does it rule out being in a relationship with someone who’s got a diagnosis.  It just means both parties need to be more aware and attentive, same as you would be if their diagnosis was a bad back or a heart condition.

Good boundaries on BOTH sides make good relationships. Even D/S and S&M relationships.

Watch out for each other. Take care of each other.